During this morning’s open rehearsal, a man with a dog leaned against the mezzanine railing and watched a choreographer lead seven dancers through a new routine. On the way out, he asked, very politely, “when does the real show start?”

Work In Progress is essentially about two things.

The first is activation of underutilized space. We believe this is a good moment to experiment with vacant storefronts and un-rented spaces in order to serve community needs, revitalize neighborhoods, and spur local economic development.

The second is the concept of open rehearsals. We were inspired by a 2008 project called Open Rehearsal London which gave Londoners an opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at theatre, music, opera and dance venues.

Here’s another way to think of it: Work In Progress is like Art Windows (paintings hung in vacant storefront windows) taken to another level of complexity in order to demonstrate how the sight of creative people at work is an inspiring and effective way to activate space. This is not a traditional performance. You won’t see a final show, nor even a full dress rehearsal. It is a look behind-the-scenes at creative people working at their craft.

Boston Street Lab is doing this project because we want to:

  • test the costs and operational demands of transforming a vacant space into a live, open rehearsal studio.
  • serve identifiable community needs. In this case, we’re using empty space to provide inexpensive rehearsal space and promote upcoming performances.
  • demonstrate “lighter, faster, cheaper” approaches to community and economic development. Instead of relying on large-scale plans for new buildings and institutions for downtown Boston, we’re advocating lightweight, temporary, adaptable solutions on the ground that use underutilized space and start things rolling today.
  • demonstrate the value of “swing” spaces that serve multiple uses and the need for umbrella organizations to run them. At the conclusion of the first Work in Progress installation we’ll publish a proposal and operational model for how an organization could manage a shared, open, rehearsal space as part of their existing program.

Join us, come down and take in the show.

Next full rehearsal is on 4/26. Here’s the plan from Weber Dance:

  • 5:30-6:30- Dancers will be warming up and then the choreographer will complete one section of dance that is unfinished.
  • 6:30-7:30- Choreographer and storyteller will try to integrate two section of the dance.
  • 7:30-8:30- Rough run through of everything we have done so far.